Gretchen Whitmer Accused of ‘Leveraging’ Her Office for ‘Personal Benefit’ in Private Plane Scandal

In a photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The governor announced the further loosening of Michigan's coronavirus restrictions, easing capacity limits in restaurants and a host of other businesses while also …
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

Before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) used a private plane to take a multi-day trip to Florida, other politicians were indicted for similar circumstances.

Deadline Detroit’s Charlie LeDuff reported:

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was outed last month for a secretive trip to Florida in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, her office claimed Michigan taxpayers did not foot the bill.

What they did not tell us, however, is that Whitmer asked a group of wealthy Detroit businessmen to provide a private plane they share.

Those businessmen have major dealings in and with the state of Michigan.

“We wondered why she reached out to us instead of booking a private charter,” one of the owners said, speaking to LeDuff on the condition of anonymity. “You can’t tell a governor no. Who needs that kind of trouble?”

Flight records show a jet owned by Air Eagle, LLC took Whitmer from Lansing on March 12 to Palm Beach and returned her on March 15. According to LeDuff, Whitmer’s office did not notify Florida law enforcement of her presence in the state, which he described as a “customary security protocol.”

According to the Detroit News, Air Eagle, LLC is owned by “The Nicholson family of PVS Chemicals, the Moroun family of the trucking company Central Transport, and the Cotton family, which formerly ran Meridian Health.”

The Moroun family also owns the Ambassador Bridge, a key transportation route to Canada. The company previously battled the state of Michigan in the state’s attempts to create a government-owned bridge in the area.

Brandon Dillon, Michigan Democrat Party chair when Whitmer was elected in 2018 and a former state representative, is now a Democrat lobbyist for Moroun. He denied any involvement in the arrangements.

“The Moroun family is a partner in Air Eagle, which owns a private plane. The Moroun family was not asked and was not aware the Governor used an Air Eagle aircraft to fly to Florida to visit her father,” the Moroun family said in a statement to Breitbart News.

Whitmer bristled when a reporter asked her about the developments Thursday.

“I’ve said everything I am going to say about my trip to go check on my father,” Whitmer told a 9&10 News journalist. “It was a quick trip. It was an important family reason for doing it. And I have nothing to add.”

“We don’t discuss my travel,” she said when pressed for more details.

“I have received an incredible number of death threats over the last year and a half. There are a lot of reasons that we don’t discuss how I travel and when we travel. That’s all I am going to say at this point,” she said about the trip that occurred nearly two months ago.

Air Eagle told the Detroit News it was “unable” to answer questions. The Nicholsons declined to comment to the paper and the Cottons did not respond.

While it is not clear what benefit — if any — the businessmen received for accommodating Whitmer’s request, other elected officials have been indicted for public corruption for similar instances of leveraging their office for personal benefits.

“It is highly troubling that a political figure would seek favors from those for whom they can perform favors,” Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, told Breitbart News. “Gov. Whitmer is leveraging her position for her own personal benefit and is highly inappropriate.”

In 2014, former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, were was accused of violating “federal corruption laws by using their positions to benefit a wealthy businessman who showered them with thousands in gifts and loans,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The indictment alleged McDonnell and his wife “participated in a scheme to use the former governor’s official position to enrich themselves and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans gifts and other things of value from Star Scientific, a Virginia-based corporation” and its CEO.

McDonnell had his conviction vacated in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the governor’s actions did not constitute “official” acts.

“The McDonnells obtained the things of value in exchange for the former governor performing official actions on an as-needed basis to legitimize, promote and obtain research studies,” it said.

In 2010, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) was indicted for demanding “all-expense-paid trips to swanky locales like Las Vegas via the private jets of city contractors,” according to Talking Points Memo:

In one case, according to the indictment, Kilpatrick had a couple of top aides inform the owner of a company that managed millions of Detroit pension funds that Kilpatrick wasn’t happy the contractor had supported his opponent in the 2005 election. So the unnamed contractor allegedly flew Kilpatrick and five of the mayor’s friends to Vegas for a golf trip in April 2007 — a golf trip that included hotels, meals, limo service, concert tickets and massages — to the tune of $16,000.

The company also allegedly paid another $58,000 for Kilpatrick to travel to Tallahassee, Florida and Bermuda.

In 2013, a federal judge sentenced Kilpatrick to 28 years in prison after he was convicted on 24 counts of corruption ranging from extortion, racketeering, bribery, and fraud. Former President Donald Trump commuted Kilpatrick’s sentence in his waning hours in office.

Kyle Olson is a reporter for Breitbart News. He is also host of “The Kyle Olson Show,” syndicated on Michigan radio stations on Saturdays–download full podcast episodes. Follow him on Parler.

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